First, the Society warmly welcomes a focus on justice reinvestment as a policy perspective on crime and punishment. Too often the shallow and demonising rhetoric of “tough on crime” has shaped debate: a discourse which does nothing to acknowledge the deep structural and social causes of antisocial and criminal behaviour. Instead, as acknowledged by the Committee, our prison populations grow, while recidivism rates remain high. A fresh perspective around criminal justice has been desperately needed, and the Society looks forward to working with government on its justice reinvestment approach, to help shape a fairer and more effective criminal justice system in Australia.
The Society also supports the broadness of the Committee’s approach to “justice reinvestment”.
Some justice reinvestment initiatives focus on particular at-risk groups (such as young people, or Indigenous people). While such targeted approaches are important, we believe that to reduce prison populations and crime levels it is very important to focus more broadly on the deep underlying structural factors which lead to crime.
In preparing this submission, the Society not only consulted with Society members, but also with participants in one of the Society’s mental health programs in the Canberra/Goulburn area.